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Charging Technology

What Is OCPP and Why Is Testing Important?

By

August 21, 2023

The Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) plays a crucial role in the growth of EV infrastructure. 

OCPP is a universal language enabling effective communication between diverse EV charging stations and backend systems. In essence, it's the link that makes a truly interconnected EV charging network possible. 

For the smooth operation of charging networks, regular testing of OCPP systems is needed. Testing  ensures that charging stations are efficient and reliable, as well as maintaining an exceptional user experience for EV owners and fleet managers. After this article, learn more about OCPP and how to get the most out of your chargers with our OCPP Report.

What Is OCPP?

OCPP is a standardized communication protocol that is designed for EV charging stations. Its role is to allow smooth and seamless communication between the hardware of EV chargers and the backend systems that manage and monitor charging operations. This universal protocol coordinates the interoperability of different charging stations, regardless of their manufacturer or specific technical specifications.

OCPP operates as a shared language, with clear rules and structures that enable a mutual understanding and efficient information transfer between the charger and the backend system. One of the primary mechanisms it employs is a technology known as a Websocket.

Websockets are designed to provide a persistent, full-duplex communication channel over a single connection. In the context of OCPP, Websockets serve as the conduit for continuous, two-way communication between EV charging stations and backend systems. This connection is initiated by the charger, which sends specific information, including unique identifiers, to the backend system. The backend system then validates this information, completing a handshake process that formally establishes the connection.

Once this connection is established, it provides a reliable and flexible platform for efficient communication, enhancing the operational effectiveness of EV charging stations. 

Why Test OCPP Chargers?

Testing is needed to maintain a reliable and effective network of OCPP chargers. Hardware testing provides an indispensable tool to prevent charging failures and address compatibility issues. 

During testing, you can simulate various scenarios. This helps to optimize the performance of charging stations. It's particularly crucial in managing complex charging sites, where various factors, such as different EV models or charger types, could affect the functionality.

Failures in charging systems can have a profound impact on EV users, leading to inconvenience, charging delays, or even stranded drivers. Furthermore, widespread charging faults can impact public perception and trust in the EV infrastructure. 

Therefore, it’s important to identify potential problems early before they affect operations. With proper testing, service providers can detect and rectify issues promptly, enhancing user satisfaction and confidence in the EV charging network.

Understanding Connection Issues and Charger Configuration Challenges

Connection issues and charger configuration challenges are among the most prevalent difficulties faced in the EV charging infrastructure. 

  • Incorrect charger ID configuration – This can result in a charger not being recognized by the backend system, leading to ineffective communication and charging failures. 
  • Lack of Transport Layer Security (TLS) – This can jeopardize the secure communication between the charger and the backend system. 
  • High latency – slows the response time of the chargers, diminishing user experience.

Charger configuration presents its own set of challenges. 

  • Setting correct power parameters – essential for the charger to function within safe and efficient boundaries. 
  • Identifying different charger types – necessary to ensure compatibility with various EVs.
  • OCPP configuration check –  incorrect settings can disrupt communication with the backend system. 
  • Authorization requests and authentication processes – without proper settings, valid users could be denied access to charging services, or unauthorized usage could be allowed, both of which undermine the system's reliability.

Understanding and addressing these issues through proactive regular testing and monitoring is key to maintaining a robust and efficient EV charging infrastructure. 

Power Profiles 

Power profiles play a crucial role in the charging process. They guide how chargers interpret power and current information from an EV. Simply put, a power profile is a set of instructions that determines the power and current values during a charging session. This ensures the charger provides the appropriate amount of power to the vehicle, maximizing efficiency and safety.

Testing Power Profiles mainly involves ensuring that the charger correctly interprets power and current values during a charging session. For instance, the charger should be able to follow the power profile's instructions and provide the required power to the EV. Tests could involve various scenarios like changes in EV power requirements, EV battery status, or grid conditions. The charger's response to these changes, per the power profile, should be correct and consistent.

Default Profiles

Default profiles, on the other hand, dictate the charger's behavior under standard conditions. They define the charger's automatic responses, like starting a charging session or shutting down, when no explicit commands are received from the backend. Understanding these default actions is key to predicting and controlling the charger's behavior, providing a seamless user experience.

Default profile testing is centered around verifying the charger's behavior under standard conditions. Here, the goal is to ensure that the charger's default actions align with the defined profile when no explicit commands are received from the backend system. Test scenarios might include situations where network connectivity is lost, or there is a delay in receiving a command from the backend system. In these cases, the charger should resort to its default behavior as defined in the default profile.

Summary

In conclusion, understanding OCPP and its mechanisms is fundamental to the effective operation of EV charging stations. 

Testing and resolving connection issues, power profiles, default profiles, and correct charger configurations are all crucial aspects of this system. 

Regular testing helps prevent charging failures, manage complex sites, and ensure optimal performance. Ampcontrol is a powerful charging management software system that makes OCPP hardware testing easy, with a step-by-step process and automated elements.

To find out how Ampcontrol can provide you with all the smart charging features and testing tools you need, book a demo today.

To learn more about OCPP and how to get the most out of your chargers, check out our OCPP Report.

Read The OCPP Report
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